Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Morning in France

I took a walk this morning through the countryside where we are staying with friends. After almost 2 weeks in France without working out in my usual fashion I was in dire need of some real movement, real exercise. Have you ever started doing something for one reason and then half way through found yourself doing it for another?
I couldn’t take my eyes off the first ruined farmhouse I passed. I wished I had access to it just to see the inside and imagine the lives of the people who had lived there when it was new and lived in and perhaps even loved.
The Little Bridge
I passed over a railroad on a little old bridge only big enough for one car to pass over at a time. I looked closely at the railroad ties because the rails looked different. Sure enough, here they use rectangle blocks of cement that create a “zipper” look. They don’t use full tarred ties like we do in the states (saves majorly on trees).  Zipper tracks. On my right three sheep in the field stopped grazing and stared at me as I passed down the other side. I felt as if they were the neighborhood gossips and wondered what this strange woman was doing in their part of the world.
On my left was a garden, obviously well-loved at one point and now only barely maintained. The big trees that had once lined the cement path cutting down the middle of the garden were gone, only their stumps left to show they had existed.  It was a sad garden. It seemed to miss its original caretaker.
I walked down a little paved road which turned into a limestone track with a line of verdure down the middle. I followed it through a forest colored brown and black with winter and dead leaves. Only a touch of evergreen ivy climbing over ground and trees alike alleviates the gray. Though quiet and bare I still heard birds twittering away. The forest may be on hold but the life in it is still strong and happy. As soon as I saw buildings I turned around and saw a touch of leftover autumn color before I retraced my steps back to the “main” road. This time I remembered I was exercising and pushed my feet faster. By now I was hot and peeled off layers tying them around my waist. The sky was gray with clouds, but refreshing, energizing, and maybe it wasn’t just because I am in France. I guess life is the same everywhere; the comings and goings of people and their work.  Gardens still need tending, roofs still need mending and the mysteries of the ones who live behind the shutters of that really beautiful house over there are still mysterious no matter what country I come from. So I walked fast, took in the gentle country around me and breathed deep, happy to be alive and exploring. Obviously I needed to touch the earth.  What I hadn’t counted on was the chance to remember that there are those who have walked here before me, and not just for the exercise.

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